TMS evidence for smooth pursuit gain control by the frontal eye fields

Cereb Cortex. 2009 May;19(5):1144-50. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn162. Epub 2008 Oct 1.


Smooth pursuit eye movements are used to continuously track slowly moving visual objects. A peculiar property of the smooth pursuit system is the nonlinear increase in sensitivity to changes in target motion with increasing pursuit velocities. We investigated the role of the frontal eye fields (FEFs) in this dynamic gain control mechanism by application of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Subjects were required to pursue a slowly moving visual target whose motion consisted of 2 components: a constant velocity component at 4 different velocities (0, 8, 16, and 24 deg/s) and a superimposed high-frequency sinusoidal oscillation (4 Hz, +/-8 deg/s). Magnetic stimulation of the FEFs reduced not only the overall gain of the system, but also the efficacy of the dynamic gain control. We thus provide the first direct evidence that the FEF population is significantly involved in the nonlinear computation necessary for continuously adjusting the feedforward gain of the pursuit system. We discuss this with relation to current models of smooth pursuit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation*